Instead of waiting until Saturday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins have signed offensive tackle Jake Long to a 5-year deal reportedly worth $57.5 million($30 million in guaranteed money). This will allow Long to get into camp on time, and avoid any messy holdout situation that seems to plague teams with top picks these days.
Leading up to the draft it appeared that another Long, defensive end Chris Long from Virginia, was going to be the Dolphins' top choice. However, last week it was revealed that Miami was engaged in contract talks with Jake Long's agent. At that time, even Vernon Gholston's name was still in the mix. At the end of the day, though Miami's desperate need for a quality lineman, especially at left tackle, beat out the other positions and Jake Long became their top choice.
As a Dolphins' fan, I have to say that I'm pleased with this pick. It instantly erases any fear I had of a debacle similar to last year's draft occuring again. Miami has their pick signed four days before the draft, and now they can concentrate on their other choices while mapping out what the rest of the teams are likely to do. In that respect, they should end up being one of, if not the most well prepared team in the draft this weekend.
On the talent side, I have no doubts that Long can step in and make an instant impact along the offensive line. While a lot of that has to do with how bad Miami's line has been in recent years, I do think he's extremely talented. Besides, think about what head coach Tony Sparano produced when he was working with the offensive line in Dallas. In his three years of offensive line coaching, he sent four different offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl(Larry Allen, Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis). The last time Miami had an offensive lineman appear in the Pro Bowl was when Tim Ruddy lined up as a reserve center in 2001. So yeah, they've needed help for a long time, and Jake Long definitely provides that.
At the very least, this pick is infinitely better than that Ted Ginn Jr. nonsense last year. If you ever wanted an example of the difference between Tony Sparano/Jeff Ireland/Bill Parcells and Cam Cameron/Randy Mueller this is it. And now you know why the latter duo is no longer coaching in South Florida, and why I have faith in the new regime to actually field a competitive team capable of winning games.